Weekend teams and predictions

Ndungane back for Bulls, De Jongh back for Stormers and Sharks forced into playing Mvovo at full back. All the weekend’s teams, times, refs and Tank Lanning’s predictions.

Easy as you like this weekend with both the Cheetahs and Lions enjoying byes. Proper point scoring dinner with the aunty on Friday night, Stormers on a gym bike on Saturday morning, Bulls with an ice cold beer in hand and a fire crackling in the background, and Sharks with your feet on a coolerbox while nibbling on a kg of ribs or chicken wings … You could even get brave or stupid enough to make yourself available for a Saturday evening function!!

Friday 28 March

08:35 Crusaders vs Hurricanes, AMI Stadium, Christchurch

Referee – Nick Briant

Prediction: CRUSADERS to beat Hurricanes by 11

Who cares about the result? We have Franks on Franks violence to start the weekend! That is just too special for words. While the Saders have not exactly been stellar, the Canes have gone right back to being that side with all the names and none of the performance. So sad really.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Bench: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieran Fonotia, 23 Nemani Nadolo

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks

Bench: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Marty Banks.


10:40 Rebels vs Brumbies, AAMI Park, Melbourne

Referee – Jaco Peyper

Prediction: BRUMBIES to beat Rebels by 5

The Cape Epic riders will hear my snoring in Greyton!

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga’a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff.

Bench: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emilie, 18 Cruze Ah-Nau, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Male Sa’u, 23 Angus Roberts.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith

Bench: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Christian Lealiifano


Saturday 29 March

08:35 Blues vs Highlanders, Eden Park, Auckland

Referee – Steve Walsh

Prediction: BLUES to beat Highlanders by 7

Gone are the days when I would automatically pick the side with Nonu in it, and to be honest, I have absolutely no idea how this game will pan out, so went with the home side. Luatua seems to be heading back into some form and that loose trio looks pretty good with Keino back. If Nonu deems the game worthy of the odd pass, Piutau and Halai are earth shattering out wide. And that front row aint half bad either!

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 George Moala, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock

Bench: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Tom Donnelly, 20 Peter Saili, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Pita Ahki, 23 Benji Marshall

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames

Bench: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Shaun Treeby


10:40 Reds vs Stormers, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Referee – Chris Pollock

Prediction: STORMERS to beat Reds by 3

Injuries have dealt the Stormers a massive blow, the result being that they have picked their 5th different lock combination of the year and include yet another new cap in Jurie van Vuuren. De Jongh will make a difference at centre, as will Aplon from the back, but this side still has a fairly experimental look to them! The Stormers have had a horror tour, and now with rumours flying around re a restructure in management, the mountain goats are going to need something very special to end the tour on a high against the Reds. For some reason, I think they might just galvanise! Carr should have been at 8, Vermeulen at 7 and Kolisi at 6, but the loosies tend to mix and match these days in any case.

Reds: 15. Lachlan Turner, 14. Rod Davies, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Mike Harris, 11. Dom Shipperley, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Jake Schatz, 7. Beau Robinson, 6. Ed Quirk, 5. James Horwill (Captain), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. Greg Holmes, 2. James Hanson, 1. James Slipper

Bench: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Albert Anae, 18. Jono Owen, 19. Ed O`Donoghue, 20. Curtis Browning, 21. Nicholas Frisby, 22. Anthony Faingaa, 23. Ben Lucas

Stormers: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Damian de Allende, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Siya Kolisi, 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Michael Rhodes, 4. Jurie van Vuuren, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Bench: 16. Stephan Coetzee, 17. Oliver Kebble, 18. Brok Harris, 19. Tazz Fuzani, 20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21. Nic Groom, 22. Demetri Catrakilis, 23. Jaco Taute


15:00 Bulls vs Chiefs, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee – Craig Joubert

Prediction: BULLS to beat Chiefs by 5

The Bulls remain largely unchanged and will be a on a proper high after last week’s win against the Sharks. They take on the defending champs Chiefs who have not looked quite as convincing this year. In 18 games, the Bulls have won 9, the Chiefs 8 with 1 drawn, while the average points difference between the 2 is just 1.67! With the Chiefs having gone down to the Force last week, they will be itching to right a few wrongs, but having travelled this week, expect another tight one!

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling

Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel vd Merwe, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Morné Mellet

Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Anton Lienert-Brown, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu

Bench: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Michael Fitzgerald, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Tim Nanai-Williams


17:05 Sharks vs Waratahs, Kings Park, Durban

Referee – Mike Fraser

Prediction: SHARKS to beat Waratahs by 6

As with the Stormers, injuries have dealt the Sharks a massive blow, meaning that they have resorted to playing Lwazi Mvovo at full back and picking Fred Zeilinga at flyhalf. Tim Swiel goes straight out of the 23 into the Vodacom Cup! Very experimental look! Apart from last week’s hiccup in Pretoria, the high riding Sharks have the Kings Park faithful at their back this week, and take on a Tahs side minus top tournament try scorer Israel Folau, who is injured.

Sharks: 15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. S’bura Sithole, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Bench: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Keegan Daniel, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. SP Marais

Waratahs: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rob Horne, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Jacques Potgieter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.

Bench: TBA

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